Saturday in the 22nd Week of the Year, September 7, 2019

The Law Has To Serve People
Paul reminds his Colossians that before their conversion they were estranged from God. Now that they have been reconciled with God and one another, they should remain.
A frequent sign of their own insecurity is that people seek security in laws and traditions. The more they insist on these, the more they try to bend people to these, the greater their insecurity. Laws are supposed to be in the service of the community, not vice versa. They may never become a block or a screen between people. They are not absolutes but servants of people.

1 Reading 1: Colossians 1:21-23
Brothers and sisters: You once were alienated and hostile in mind because of evil deeds; God has now reconciled you in the fleshly Body of Christ through his death, to present you holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him, provided that you persevere in the faith, firmly grounded, stable, and not shifting from the hope of the Gospel that you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, am a minister.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 54:3-4, 6 and 8
R. (6) God himself is my help.

O God, by your name save me,
and by your might defend my cause.
O God, hear my prayer;
hearken to the words of my mouth. R.

Behold, God is my helper;
the Lord sustains my life.
Freely will I offer you sacrifice;
I will praise your name, O LORD, for its goodness. R.

Alleluia: John 14:6
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Luke 6:1-5
While Jesus was going through a field of grain on a Sabbath, his disciples were picking the heads of grain, rubbing them in their hands, and eating them. Some Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Have you not read what David did when he and those who were with him were hungry? How he went into the house of God, took the bread of offering, which only the priests could lawfully eat, ate of it, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

Paul’s injunction to the Colossians today can well be applied to all of us. We were initially alienated from God, but through the death of Christ we have been reconciled in order to be presented holy, without blemish, and irreproachable before him. We need but persevere in the faith, well-grounded and not slipping away from the hope of the gospel. It is this latter injunction that causes us concern. In the midst of so many secular, even pagan, values today, it is not easy to remain firmly grounded. We all know people, sometimes those close to us, who have abandoned the faith.
That the apostles were plucking and eating some of the grain on the Sabbath strikes us as being very irrelevant. Jesus engages in a little casuistry in citing the example of David taking the bread from the sanctuary on the Sabbath. Then he cites the main reason for the dispensation from the law, something his opponents would never accept. Jesus was lord of the Sabbath.
Jesus was not concerned about minutiae. As Paul states so clearly, what is important is to stay in the friendship of Christ. It is not that easily lost. A mature Christian knows when sin is present and when it is not. It makes little sense for us to wrestle with our formed conscience over nonissues. Ours is a gracious God, not a taskmaster.

Christ has made us free. Let us not give up that freedom by slavishly sticking to practices and traditions that do not reflect the gospel. May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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